Class is in session. As the teacher begins to return the tests to his students, I wait anxiously to receive my final mark. Progress is a beautiful thing. I’m hopeful, but I’m also nervous. My palms begin to sweat as thoughts from my past race through my mind. Moments pass…then minutes, as other students are receiving their tests and reviewing their progress. The teacher navigates through the room very quietly. He has returned one test…now two, three….and it’s finally my turn. As I extend my hand to receive my paper, we lock eyes briefly. In those few seconds, I couldn’t adequately decipher what his eyes were saying – though I tried to. He swiftly moves on to the next student.
I immediately set my paper face down on my desk. I wait a few moments in angst. Seconds later, I pick it back up. Nervousness kicks in higher gear, but I must review my progress. I turn my paper around. I look at it, and…I gasp for air. I can’t breathe. I want to cry furiously with everything in me, but I’m in a quiet room filled with dozens of classmates surrounding me. I failed the test….miserably. I begin to wonder if I’m the only one. I start to recount…I thought I knew the material? I thought I had studied like I needed to? Clearly I had not. What had I done wrong? Had I really taken the test and the lesson serious?
Did I study to show myself approved? Or did I just skim through, hoping that no one would notice? Did I really take all of the promises and commandments of God to be true? Or did I still believe and trust in my own way? As intellectual as we think we are – and even appear to be to the outside world – we’ll never be able to fool the teacher. When the test is given, and class is finally in session, He can assess whether we have really put in the hard work and dedication as preparation for our future, or whether we just skimmed through the material quickly – faking it through. Appearing to be ready. Outward appearances can be deceiving. We become very good at appearing to be what we need to be at a particular time in our lives but never fully being (Romans 2:28-29). This never serves us well. Because God knows and sees all. And while we remain stagnant in our walk as we wrestle with God and with ourselves…convincing ourselves that partiality and half-heartedness is enough to make it through, He is taking note of every single thing and marking our progress.
I must be honest. In the past, I have had to take some of the same lessons over…and over. It even reached a point where the enemy knew exactly what I was going to do before I did it. But the cycle must stop at some point. When will we learn that we are called to be diligent, persistent, and faithful to God? When will we learn that we must be sincere in our pursuit of Him by putting time and effort into what He wants us to learn – just as we would anything else? When will we learn that only by putting Him first will we have true success?
True desire can always be found in our pursuit. Who and what do you truly desire? Do you desire more of Him? Do you desire the promise? Or are you more comfortable with your own definitions of truth, love, and success? Do you really love, honor, and fear Him? Or do you love and honor your things – things that have become idols in your life? If we were on trial, and someone had to measure our love and devotion to Christ solely by our pursuit of Him, would they find enough evidence to convict us? If we were involved in a catastrophic accident that severely altered our bodies – and we eventually died as a result – if they exhumed our body, would they find His name tattooed on our heart? Does who we say we are, and who we really are match up? It’s time to start being real. Honesty is the best policy. And it always starts with being honest with ourselves.
You may say to yourself: “Well, I have succeeded in the past by only skimming through the material. It was enough to get a passing grade. And I passed, so that’s all that matters.” No. You may think you passed, but God has your real progress recorded. (His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.) Sure, you may have learned the material quickly; you may have even succeeded in the past with this kind of effort. But if you’ve ever skimmed through material or crammed for a test before, you know that the material departs your memory soon after the test is taken. You don’t retain any of the information, nor apply it to your life to allow it to transform you. Soon, another test will come along that will completely throw you off balance. It may distract you, or it may devour you. And because you didn’t take the time to truly study for the first test, the second one will make you look like an amateur. The second one will be harder. It will require more of you. It will require forsaking your own way – in every way.
We must take God seriously in life. We must hold His Word and His truth near and dear to our hearts. We must bind it around our necks, and keep it with us at all times so that we may not sin against Him. We must put on the full armor of God every day we wake up. We must stand strong in His power and in His might, so that when the tests come, and when the wiles of the devil run fiercely after us, we are able to persevere. We must hold fast to our shield of faith, our helmet of salvation, the gospel of peace, and the word of truth so that we can stand.
Of course we’re smart, and no one would deny that we love God, but for some reason, it takes most of a while to get this concept down. Why? We have all of the knowledge in the world, but we’re not doing anything with it. Knowledge and intellect means nothing if it isn’t changing your life. Wisdom is useless unless it is being applied. Our intellect and our self-righteous works do not save us; grace does. God doesn’t want to see people walking around with a bunch of head knowledge, but no power! God doesn’t want to see a bunch of people naming and proclaiming with no real righteousness or transformation. God doesn’t want to see a bunch of people spreading love without truth – and vice versa. What will it take for us to realize that we really do have to take God seriously? What will it take for us to realize that we really do have to know our word and study in order to successfully prepare ourselves for spiritual warfare? What will it take for us to understand that we really do need to study His Word in order to know who He is and what He requires of us?
God is an all-knowing, omnipotent, sovereign God. We can’t fake with Him. We can’t hide from Him. The love, mercy, and grace that God demonstrates to us by even allowing us to re-take tests and re-learn lessons is phenomenal. Still, how long are we going to continue to disappoint Him by not wanting more for ourselves? By not reaching higher? He is trying to move us to new heights, but we keep weighing ourselves down with our own philosophies and ways of doing things. Passing His test with flying colors first starts with realizing that you are not your own, and that your strength comes from Him. We must humble ourselves before Him, and acknowledge that we desperately need Him in order to survive and succeed in every aspect of our lives. We must seek him passionately on a daily basis and develop a true relationship. We must confess that we desire Him above all else and really mean it. We must repent. We must walk with Him in holiness and righteousness. We must leave the past behind and step into newness. We must allow Him to guide us and teach us everything we need to know through His Word and His message.
Our entire life is a test. We cannot successfully pass the true test of life without the Master Teacher. We cannot successfully reach the Promised Land without first wanting more for ourselves; without receiving manna as God’s provision, then reaping a harvest from the wisdom, blessings, miracles, and resources that we were afforded. Ultimate success is making it to Heaven, and we will not make it to Heaven without knowing and surrendering to the teacher. We cannot simply skim through the Word of God and expect to get by. We need our bread daily. We need it to nourish us, to quench the thirst of our hearts, minds, and souls. We have to study it. We have to feed off of the Word of God so that we can be filled.
There are so many things happening in the world today. There are so many people being led astray by heretics and false teachers. There are so many things that are distracting us from focusing on Christ and His return. There is so much deception going on in the world that we live in. How do we expect to survive current and future times if we’re not intentionally studying the blueprint created to ensure a successful lifestyle? How can we expect to survive current and future times if we’re not focused on deepening our relationship with Christ, the rock of our salvation?
It is impossible to be armed and ready for the tests of life if you’ve never even opened up the book. Open up the book (Holy Bible)! Spend quality time with the teacher and learn His lessons. So that when the tests come, you are more than prepared! Wait no longer. For judgment is at hand. On judgment day, will you stand before God with a passing mark or a failing mark? Will He find your name in the book of life? Will you hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant”, or “Depart from me, I never knew you” …all because you NEVER took the time to study the truth, cherish the Lord and the book of life, and learn His lessons so you could pass the test?
God warns us about straddling the fence, and not fully surrendering to His will. He says in Revelation 3:15-16: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were either cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you of out of my mouth. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15). You are either for God, or you are not. There is no middle ground. Pick a side. Study. Learn the LESSON. Then apply it to your life. It is what He desires for His children, and requires of His children. You never have to be nervous and doubtful about your future if you are truly honoring God and esteeming Him high above all things. Don’t fake it until you make it, because quite honestly, you’ll never make it that way. Class is in session, and there isn’t a crash course available for eternal life. You have one life to live on this earth. Live it right. Stand up for truth. Walk in the victory that you have in Christ Jesus.
Blessings and love,
***My brother or sister, I encourage you to reflect on the following scriptures below for guidance and encouragement in your spiritual walk with Christ. If I can assist you in ANY way along your journey, please reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. God Bless You!***
Scripture References: Deuteronomy 30:6, Romans 2:28-29, Romans 2:4-5, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Ephesians 5:3-5, Romans 12:1-2, John 15:13-14, Philippians 4:7; Matthew 7:22-23; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 3:16